Smile Politely

D.P. Dough’s Steve Fiala dishes about calzones and chocolate chip cookies

I am all about calzones. I shared some delicious calzone options a few weeks ago from D.P. Dough. Over email, I was able to chat with Steve Fiala, the owner of D.P. Dough’s Champaign location. He shared with me about what a normal day looks like for him, what’s the most popular items on the menu, and what is good for carryout (spoiler: all the calzones).

Smile Politely: Steve, can you tell me a bit about DP Dough and your role there?

Steve Fiala: D.P. Dough is a small franchise with locations around the country but primarily based in college towns. I opened this location in May of 2006, so we are going into our fifteenth year of business. As the owner, I’ve worn a lot of hats over the years. At this point, I try to focus on the big picture and things like staff culture.

SP: What does a typical day look like for you?

Fiala: It has changed a lot recently like everything else. I’m working more in the store than I have in years, but I’ve really been enjoying it. A lot of prep work is required to get the store ready for a typical day, so it helps to get in a few hours before we open. If I am opening the store, I get in by 9 a.m. and make all of our dough for the day — which can be as many as 1,000 dough balls daily on a busy weekend when students around. After that, it’s on to various other things like cutting vegetables, cooking proteins, par-baking tater tots, and those kinds of things. Then, we open, and our customers start ordering. 

Freshly made dough balls are lined up in a tray in rows. Photo from D.P. Dough.

Photo by D.P. Dough.

SP: You’re famous for calzones. What else is on the menu?

Fiala: We scratch make incredible chocolate chip cookies daily. I have to give our cookies a shout out. The secret is in the milk chocolate chips.

Chocolate chip cookies lay on white parchment paper. Photo by D.P. Dough.

Photo by D.P. Dough.

Fiala: We also take pride in the salads that we offer. We use only full heads of 100% romaine lettuce that are cut and washed daily along with other fresh vegetables. Aside from that, we offer jumbo chicken wings and other items like cheesy bacon tots that are really popular.  

SP: What’s the hardest thing to make on the menu?

Fiala: Roni rolls! My staff hates making them! It’s an ongoing joke whenever a ticket prints with them, but they are delicious and get ordered plenty despite the fact that we never advertise them. I guess you could say they are somewhat of a hidden gem on the menu.

A calzone from D.P. Dough is sliced in half and stacked slightly on top of each other to showcase the warm, melty inside. Photo by D.P. Dough.

Buffer Zone. Photo by D.P. Dough.

SP: What’s the most popular menu item for C-U customers?

Fiala: The Roni Zoni (pepperoni, mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesan) is the big winner followed by the Ranch Buffer (breaded chicken, Frank’s Red Hot, ranch, and mozzarella).

SP: What’s your favorite thing to eat on the menu?

Fiala: That’s a hard question for me having been around calzones for so long. I’m going to go with the Firecracker (pepperoni, sausage, jalapeños, Monterey jack, and mozzarella) with some fresh spinach added.

A D.P. Dough calzone that has been cut open is stacked slightly on top of the other to show the inside of the calzones. Photo by D.P. Dough.

Combat Zone. Photo by D.P. Dough.

SP: How has DP Dough been affected since the Governor’s order?

Fiala: We have been affected by the absence of the student population without a doubt, but aside from that, we have been doing a respectable amount of business, thankfully. It has been great to see our regulars continue to order along with a good amount of new customers. We are definitely missing the weekends on campus though; that is where we really do the volume and make our money. 

SP: Have you missed the UIUC students who usually return after spring break?

Fiala: Absolutely. It’s hard to describe just how different everything feels on campus. We are missing half of our customer base.

SP: Have there been changes to the menu? To your staff or hours?

Fiala: Our menu has remained largely the same, and we decided to close the store every night at midnight while Illinois is following the stay at home order. Typically we stay open a couple of hours later since we are on campus. We have been working hard to balance running our operations with a lean staff while also continuing to get our employees the hours that they need and deserve. I am really hoping that the Payment Protection Program will help us keep our staff working the hours that they are used to going forward.

SP: What are your recommendations for dishes on the menu that are good for carryout?

Fiala: Everything on our menu is designed for carryout and delivery. We have a core product, calzones, that travel very well.

SP: Any tips for ordering carryout to go from D.P. Dough?

Fiala: Call and ask our staff for suggestions, if you are inclined. They know what’s up.  Other than that, streamline everything by doing it online. We are not allowing customers in our lobby right now so we can do what we can to keep our staff healthy. We will be happy to bring your order out to your car if you call when you arrive.

SP: Is there anything customers can do to ensure the health and safety of your carryout team?

Fiala: Please be respectful of our staff and stay outside of the store when picking food up. Also, our delivery drivers are doing their best to conduct all deliveries with little or no contact with customers, so understanding that proces helps as well.  

SP: Should customers pay by cash or credit?

Fiala: We are only accepting credit on deliveries right now, but we will take cash payment for carryout orders.

SP: Anything else you’d like to share with the C-U community?

Fiala: A sincere thank you to everyone who has continued to support us and all of the other local restaurants. I hope we all can survive these crazy times and come out stronger on the other end. And please, if you are going to order from D.P. Dough or one of your other favorite restaurants, consider ordering directly so that we can avoid paying what amount to significant fees to third party vendors. Lastly, I want to say a thank you to my staff. Especially during these times, it’s a blessing to be able to go work with a group of positive people. I know that we are all very thankful to have a job to go to.

D.P. Dough
33 B Green St
11 a.m. to midnight, daily

Top image provided by D.P. Dough.

Food + Drink Editor / / instagram

More Articles